Press Release | February 13, 2024

Regional landfill’s pollution endangers community in Sampson County, N.C. and surrounding environment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.— On behalf of the Environmental Justice Community Action Network, the Southern Environmental Law Center today sent a notice of intent to sue GFL Environmental and its subsidiaries for violating the law in their handling and storage of solid waste at the Sampson County Landfill by polluting surface water, groundwater, and nearby drinking water wells with toxic PFAS in a manner that presents an imminent and substantial danger to people’s health and the environment. Unless GFL stops its pollution and takes action to remedy the landfill’s contamination of surrounding surface water, groundwater, and private drinking wells within 90 days, the groups will take the company to court.

“For too long, those in charge of the landfill have shirked responsibility for the health and safety of Snow Hill residents,” said EJCAN Executive Director Sherri White-Williamson.

“We won’t hesitate to hold GFL accountable in court if the company refuses to address its water pollution endangering residents of this community,” added Allie Sheffield, chair of EJCAN’s Board of Directors. 

The letter explains that GFL has violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by handling waste contaminated with toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in an unsafe manner that leads to the pollution of local waters that people living near the landfill rely on.

“All communities deserve clean water,” said SELC Staff Attorney Maia Hutt. “By contaminating the waters that Snow Hill residents depend on, GFL violates the law and further inscribes patterns of environmental injustice that disproportionately burden communities of color with pollution.”

The groups ask that GFL stop its handling, storage, treatment, and disposal of PFAS-contaminated waste in a manner that allows PFAS to escape the landfill and endanger people; and to investigate, cease, and remediate the PFAS pollution already present in nearby surface water, groundwater, and drinking water wells.

The Sampson County regional landfill is located in Roseboro, North Carolina, in the rural, predominantly Black community of Snow Hill. Opened in 1973 and expanded in 1992 despite widespread outcry and resistance from community members, the landfill today spans nearly 1,000 acres and accepts over 1.8 million tons of waste annually, and had, for many years, accepted PFAS-contaminated industrial waste. Recent testing from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality confirmed unsafe – and in some instances shockingly high – levels of the toxic chemicals in the waters that surround the landfill.

PFAS, a class of thousands of human-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, and GenX, are associated with serious health harms. These contaminants are known as forever chemicals—they do not dissipate, dissolve, or degrade but stay in water, soil, and our bodies. PFAS are not removed by conventional water treatment so keeping them out of drinking water sources is critical.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law that protects human health and the environment from the potential harms of waste disposal, requires a 90-day notice of intent.

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Press Contacts

Kathleen Sullivan

Senior Communications Manager (NC)

Phone: 919-945-7106
Email: [email protected]